Mar 242005
 
Authors: Chris Gerken

Northern Conference Semi-Finals

Game 1 Today: Tulsa @ Colorado, 7:05 p.m.

Game 2 Saturday: Tulsa @ Colorado, 7:05 p.m.

Game 3 Wednesday: Colorado @ Tulsa, 6:05 p.m.

Game 4 Friday: Colorado @ Tulsa, 6:35 p.m.

Game 5* April 2: Colorado @ Tulsa, 6:35 p.m.

Game 6* April 6: Tulsa @ Colorado, 7:05 p.m.

Game 7* April 7: Tulsa @ Colorado, 7:05 p.m.

* if neccessary

All games will be broadcast on 99.9 The Point

With the return of some top players and a new goaltender, the Colorado Eagles hope to erase the embarrassing memory of first-round elimination in last year's playoffs as the puck drops tonight to begin the 2005 playoffs.

The Eagles begin the first round of playoffs at 7:05 tonight as they take on the fourth-seed Tulsa Oilers at the Budweiser Events Center.

The Eagles enter this year's playoffs as the top team in the Northwest Division for the second season in a row, and this year as the league's best team. They have packed their arsenal with a better goaltender, one of the league's top scorers in the veteran Greg Pankewicz, and the confidence of being one of the league's best defensive teams.

This year the Eagles have dominated the Oilers, winning all four of the regular-season meetings and outscoring them 20-3.

The Eagles are led by the superb goaltending of 20-year-old Tyler Weiman, who leads the Central Hockey League with a .938 save percentage and a 1.80 goals-against average, according to www.coloradoeagles.com. This is Weiman's first year in the CHL and he will make his first playoff appearance tonight.

In their second season in the CHL, the Eagles clinched the best record in the CHL with 44 wins in 60 games, allowing the fewest goals-against at home with 123. Team captain Pankewicz led the team to success this season with 81 points in only 47 games. Pankewicz is expected to return to the lineup tonight after suffering an injury in practice March 5.

The Oilers (32-25-3) finished second this season in the Northeast Division, well behind the first-place Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (36-17-7). The Oilers haven't seen playoff ice since the 2000-01 season when they were swept by Oklahoma City.

The Eagles look to make a better run in the playoffs this year after their disappointing upset at the hands of the Wichita Thunder in 2004. The fourth-seeded Thunder disposed of the first-seeded Eagles in four games last year, outscoring the Eagles 10-9. Colorado was a heavy favorite last year, 16 points ahead of Wichita in the standings and second overall in the league.

However, the Eagles have added new dimension to the team this year, as Weiman will be defending the real estate between the posts. He will be the favorite over the Oiler's netminder Bill Ruggiero, who has a 3.16 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.

Colorado also receives additional help entering the playoffs with the return of some of its top players, among them defender Matt Desrosiers (46 points this season), Kevin Marsh (52 points), Chris Hartsburg (29 points), Mike Lephart (36 points) and Ryan Tobler (36 points).

The Oliers are lead by wings Jason Bermingham and Dan Gravelle with 70 and 65 points, respectively.

The Eagles also will host the Oilers in game two of the best-of-seven series on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.

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